From the Rector's Desk:
(May 29, 2019)
This more contemporary depiction of The Ascension captures the account given in Acts:
"as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)
The disciples are stunned at what they are seeing and hearing. Just before these words, Jesus has given them the command to take the Gospel into all the world. And now they are watching him leave. This doesn't seem right.
But there is a Scene II to this drama: the Holy Spirit will come.
So often in our life in Christ, he calls us to something far beyond our abilities, then, just as when it seems that he is absent, the Lord by his Spirit shows up in a remarkable way.
Christ is ascended, but he is not inattentive. He is at work in and through his people to bring about his good will and pleasure by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus said, "it is a good thing that I go away...", because the Holy Spirit came to carry out the work of God through the people of God. Alleluia!
God bless you as you rejoice in the Ascended Christ tomorrow.
"Come On In, The Fire's Fine!"
A Call to Deeper Discipleship and Contagious Faith
If we look seriously at the Scriptures, and if we're honest, we hear a lot of awfully challenging things! We're tempted, like Jesus' disciples, to turn away to an easier path. But like his first disciples, we find that no one else has "words of eternal life."
People's last words often summarize what they most earnestly desire. Jesus' final instructions to his disciples add to the challenges of following him: Go make more disciples! This makes most of us squirm.
Begun as lessons learned in facing the daunting task of inspiring her own children's faith, the principles Marcia Lebhar will share apply to disciples at every stage of life. Come join us for a day of encouragement... encouragement to persevere and go deeper in our own relationships with God, and a look at some ways our faith can become contagious.
(November 21, 2018)
Everyone, regardless of faith, is grateful for the good things which they enjoy...and also for the bad things which they avoided. What makes the Christian faith different is the admonition to "give thanks in all circumstances," as Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. It runs counter to human nature to be grateful in the midst of painful and difficult circumstances.
Two important comments on this strange gratitude. First, Paul's instruction is to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. Plainly, many negative circumstances are evil; our thanks is not for evil, rather we are instructed to be thankful in all circumstances.
Thus the second note: our thanks is directed to God. To thank God in the midst of pain and suffering is to acknowledge that He is sovereign and able to work through the most trying of circumstances. Many wise saints through the years have realized that God's greatest and deepest work in their lives have come through the hardest places.
Once again we can see that our feelings fail to point us in godly ways: "...we live by faith, not by sight."
I pray that you pause to offer thanks to God in ALL circumstances in your lives.
God bless you. Thank you for the blessing you are.
(November 1, 2018)
On November 1 each year, the Church celebrates All Saints Day. We remember, honor, and, in some ways, seek to emulate the men and women who have lived faithfully in witness to the saving power of Christ, often at the cost of their lives. (In Greek the word for witness is also translated martyr.)
The interior of the orthodox church pictured above reflects icons or depictions of those who through history have been godly examples. These are not for decoration but to remind worshipers of the "great cloud of witnesses" which the writer of Hebrews describes.
Typically, when I consider some of lives and stories of great saints through the centuries, I can get discouraged. "I could never be like that," is what usually goes through my head.
Let me let you in on some important facts about the saints: